Saturday, August 05, 2006

MovieWatch: "Miami Vice"

"Miami Vice"
Director: Michael Mann
Fien Print Rating (Out of 100): 36
In a Nutshell: I don't often shell out money to see movies this days and yet *this* is what I have to pay my 10 bucks for? Sigh. There's this long-held myth in Hollywood that with a few exceptions (Renee Zellweger in "Bridget Jones" or Gwyneth Paltrow here or there) American actors embarrass themselves when they attempt to do British accents, but British actors can come Stateside and do American accents with ease. Anybody who believes that should take a look at Michael Mann's adaptation of his own '80s television franchise. The movie is undone by Mann's sluggish writing, by the pace-challenged editing and by its general absence of purpose. But more than anything -- for my money -- it's undone by actors who are concentrating harder on getting their words out than on giving performances. Exhibit 1 is Colin Farrell, who broke out in "Tigerland," as critics raved that with his solid Southern accent, they never knew he was Irish. Since that movie, Farrell has yet to do an even vaguely convincing American accent and it's not a coincidence that he's always had problems connecting with viewers on-screen, even if his off-screen persona is interesting. I'll give anybody a nickel if they can tell me the exact geographic origin of Farrell's Sonny Crockett (bonus points for a logical explanation for his long hair and moustache). In several scenes, he sounds a bit Southern, in others he may be Southern Irish. At times he uses a generic flat uber-accent, but at others, he doesn't even bother. It's a Razzie-worthy performance, but it's no better than whatever Naomie Harris is doing. Another fine thespian from the Empire, Harris may or may not be affecting a New Yawk dialect. I accepted Harris' quirky voodoo patois in "Pirates 2," but perhaps a real life Caribbean Witch Doctor would like to chime in and let me know that she stunk at that. And worst of all is the lovely and talented Gong Li, who may be one of the world's finest actresses when performing in her native tongue. In "Miami Vice," I don't think she understood a single word she said and she gets to be blunderful in both English and Spanish. I wrote a Zap2it column on this very subject late last year. Was there not an American actor with the charisma and machismo to play Sonny Crockett? Was there not a mysterious and exotically ethnic actress in the entire world capable of doing Li's part and comprehending the dialogue? Maybe with somebody better to play off of, Jamie Foxx wouldn't have shifted into autopilot for the entire movie. And yet I continue to admire the things Mann is doing with digital video and as bored as I felt throughout, I often got caught up in the director's depiction of Miami at night. That alone would have been worth the price of admission if I hadn't had to actually pay the price of admission.

Oh and in case you're curious, here are the links to my Zap2it reviews of "The Descent" and "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby."


  1. 36 out of 100 seems really bad for a michael mann film.

    Definitly makes it worth while that I have avoided this.

    --RC of

  2. See, even *I* know that my ratings system has no particular meaning, but I found "Miami Vice" to be a rather shocking miss on Mann's part. I'm not one of those Mann-o-philes who believes that everying the guy does is gold, but I've always been able to find an angle on which to appreciate his films. This one was too leaden and clumsy for me to even see the point. Big ol' disappointment in my book. But other folks seem to have liked it a big more. And some have seemed to hate it a bit more... Mixed bag...